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This fall’s new priorities

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

I usually hit the restart button in October.  It always has been a time when I “reshuffle” my priorities.  So, where I can make my (our) life easier, I’m going to.  I’ll be changing more than a few things this fall. 

I think my writing muse has fled the country.  It takes so much longer than it did in the beginning.  Maybe when I’m trapped inside in the middle of winter and middle of summer, I won’t be distracted by as much.  But, now that the weather is nice there are things I need to do outside that take time planning and doing them. 

I also want to focus on Sarah and yoga.  I’m getting involved with her school and have enjoyed the fieldtrips with her class.  This January and February I’ll be working on getting my 200-hr. yoga certification.  Plus, I want to slowly begin teaching private lessons.  I try desperately to not divide myself so thin that I can’t do things well.  The perfectionist in me always goes nuts when that happens.  😉

These are just a few of my “reshuffled” priorities.  I don’t like getting use to our new normal, but I have to and I have to move us forward too. 

Sarah at the Vogel Orchard pumpkin patch today.

Sarah:  Her class visited the Vogel Orchard Pumpkin Patch today.  They are being incredibly generous by taking all the kids on a hay ride and then giving each child at Stonewall Head Start a pie pumpkin to decorate.  The class then received a big pumpkin to carve tomorrow.  Sarah had a blast.  She’s so fun to watch.

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Is the show “Go On” realistic?

October 4, 2012 2 comments

The widow blog I subscribe to, Widowed Village, asked us to watch the show and then do a massive group review.  Before her request, I had no idea of the show’s premise.  Ever since Sarah was born, I try not to get hooked on new shows because I don’t really have time for tv.  However, I recorded it and watched it yesterday.  I would say the producers/network took a really big gamble by attempting to find humor in a new widower’s life.  I’ve only watched one show, but I’d say they did a darn good job.  Because of the situation this is probably one of the most well thought out shows.  It felt like a sitcom on the surface, with deeper tones if you wanted to see it, and an occasional splash of real feelings.  I had many similar feelings and thoughts as Matthew Perry’s character.  He just articulates it better.  I appreciate the show. 

But, of course, a child is not involved.  You couldn’t tastefully make that funny. 

Most of you read this on a regular basis, so you see how I try to find the sad, odd and unique humor in being a widow.  Jim and I had a quite morbid humor starting a few months after his diagnosis.  It’s normal, but we tried not to do it in front of others.  You have probably heard the saying, “You have to laugh to keep from crying.”  I am still walking that fine line on a daily basis.  Jim had a better sense of humor than me, so I try to see how he would look at ridiculous situations that I run into.

Sarah:  Last weekend, we got to ride Thomas the Train when he came to Burnet.  Sarah had a blast and was sad when we couldn’t go back the next morning.  However, I came across a problem that is not going to go away.  On the way home, I could see Sarah becoming sad.  I asked what was wrong.  She got that “look” and said she missed her daddy.  I took a deep breath, guessing the problem, and asked if she noticed the other daddies there (like I had).  She simply nodded her head.  I paused.  Then, I said I knew he wanted to be there with her.  I knew he would have had fun with us, and that I’m sure he was watching her have fun.  I hope that was the right thing to have told her.   

If there are going to be a ton of daddies around, I am of the mind to take her only to high quality, memory-making events and not run-of-the-mill ones.  It has to be worth her noticing the other kids have daddies (jealously) and for her to notice her daddy’s absence (sadness).  Yes, we have to get use to these feelings, but I’m not into doing it constantly.  What would you do?

Unfortunately, we were (I was) sized up at the event.  I felt demeaned and angry that I felt that way.  The woman in charge of economic development for the City of Burnet was conducting a survey.  She interviewed the dad in front of me, looked solidly at me, then skipped me and proceeded to interview the dad behind me.  You better bet I drove straight home when we left.  And how much do you think I want to go back to that town?  This happened the day after Sarah’s Stonewall Head Start/Ag-Extension Service sent home a registration form for a reading program asking for only the father’s information on the front, and on the back did not include widow/widower in the marital status section.  Head Start and the Ag-Extension Service each got a signed letter from me. 

I’m tired of this.  If I need to, I will single-handedly educate the entire Hill Country and become a huge single mother advocate.  I rarely point out that I’m a widow because I know it makes most people uncomfortable to discuss it and they typically can’t relate anyways.  However, I am not going to roll over and act as if all this ignoring is ok either.  I didn’t change.  The situation changed.

Note:  I forwarded a link to this blog entry to the economic department of the City of Burnet hoping for an explanation.  Both women conducting the survey quickly sent me long and very kind emails.  I completely read that long look the wrong way.  They were trying to not be disruptive to the event by not asking the same people to do the survey twice and by trying to asking every other family.  There were more things that happened this past week that I haven’t even mentioned, so I believe I’m especially raw at the moment.  Go to Burnet.  I will – especially to ride Thomas again next year.  Probably sooner to eat at the Cookie Café and Bakery on the square…

We made it through the first year

September 27, 2012 2 comments

No more “year of first’s.”  I made it through the first part of this week pretty much on autopilot.  Trying not to think of what it was like a year ago, or what it should be like today.  I’m starting to think a little better today.

Last night, on the way to bed, I asked Sarah about the night Jim passed away.  (I have only asked once before because I don’t like the idea of bringing up bad memories on purpose.  That response is on an earlier post.)  First, I asked if she remembered her daddy leaving the house with a lot of people.  She frowned, and after a moment said, “No.”  Ok, good, I was hoping she wouldn’t remember that.  Next, I asked if she remembered waking up (exactly when Jim was passing) when my parents were with her.  She said, “Yes.”  I asked what woke her up.  She just looked at me.  Then, without really thinking about it, I asked who woke her up.  She smiled and said, “You.”  Hmmm.    I told her I heard she was really mad (more like instant, long-lasting, foot-stomping, crying pissed-off) when she woke up, and I asked if she remembered why.  She said, “I didn’t want to lose you too.”  After my jaw dropped and the tears hit my eyes, I hugged her and said, “Well, you didn’t, did you?”  And she smiled at me again. 

I’m not huge on the super-natural stuff, so what she said can be explained two ways.  First, I know she knew Jim was changing that last week, she actually did remember Jim leaving the house and was applying all that, or part, to me too.   Second, and here’s the teeny-tiny super-naturalish part, Sarah may have had enough of a bond with me or Jim or both that she felt what was happening in Fredericksburg.  It’s not completely unheard of, and I have always felt the moment Sarah falls asleep, so I know we have a strong bond.  No matter what, I probably won’t ever really know.  I wish I could though.

(Sorry this is late.   I just had to write an emergency recommendation letter for a friend of mine who the government is trying to deport.  The second friend of mine the government has done this to, and they are both amazing men.  Both caught in a net not meant for them.)

It has been almost a year

September 20, 2012 2 comments

September must be the month Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies move through the Johnson City area.  I began seeing this butterfly everywhere starting at the beginning of the month.  As soon as I saw the first one, I started watering all our lantana and turk’s cap – butterfly favorites.  While watering one morning, one of these beautiful giants landed about a foot in front of my nose.  I told it “thank you.”  I love these butterflies because they remind me of the freedom I believe Jim achieved.  These are “Jim’s butterflies” to me now.  Not only because one was there for us during his graveside service, but because it seems to show up at the beginning of hunting season.

I didn’t want to change me or the way I lived.  But, after we lost Jim, there was no way to stop it from happening.  I knew Sarah was going to have to change too.  But, how do we change, live through it and come out in one piece?   I still don’t know.  But, the moving forward isn’t as raw and painful – most days.  Now that Sarah is able to speak so much better, she tells me things she remembers about Jim.  She is surprised when I am surprised at what she remembers.  Most recently it was how much higher Jim could swing her into the tub.  I feel an almost overwhelming sense of relief when she recalls memories of her daddy.  She has not forgotten him, at least for now.  She just literally couldn’t talk about him before.  The incidents that occurred during the week of Vacation Bible School really opened the door for her.

Quite incidentally, about a month ago I moved Jim’s cologne and my perfume to Sarah’s level.  She was curious, so I let her smell them.  The sweet and peaceful look on her face when she smelled Jim’s cologne stunned me.  When she refocused on me she softly smiled and said, “Daddy.”  Now she asks to smell it all the time.  Therefore, I smell it all the time too.  It was really hard at first, because I’m one of those that strongly link memories to smells.  Now I’m beginning to relax when I smell it too.  I still miss Jim daily and get mad at life when Sarah and I start having a lot of fun because he should be enjoying her too.  However, I have the sneaking suspicion they would have ganged up on me.  Her humor is so much like his.

I have made it through this year.  I tried to make it as easy on Sarah as I could.  And night time is still hard for both of us.  But, we’ll keep growing and moving forward.  I’m finding the best way forward is through.

New posting day

September 19, 2012 1 comment

Between Sarah’s new school schedule and my yoga classes, I have found it much easier to post on Thursdays.  Sorry it will be so late in the week, but I think it’s better to be late than so irregular.  Thanks for your patience during the past several weeks.

Categories: Beckie

A personal case for building strength

September 13, 2012 2 comments

This was originally written for my yoga blog.

Last weekend, I trained to become a volunteer for Children’s Disaster Services, so that if there was ever a local disaster I might be of some use.  The training lasted 27 hours and involved sleeping on cots in our church.  Before I arrived, I was a little worried about re-stuffing my sleeping bag into its stuff sack.  I remember my futile struggle with it the last time Jim and I went camping, and Jim had to finish the stuffing for me.  But, before the sleeping bag could be a problem, we had to set up the cots.  The gentleman I was helping and I were surprised that I was able to put the cots together so quickly.  Then, the next morning when I did finally attempt to put my sleeping bag away; I did it. 

I have become so much stronger than I was a year ago.  I lost my wonderful husband a year ago, on the 25th of this month.  My mental strength may still be “iffy” at times, but my physical strength has definitely increased.  The only reason for this is that I don’t have a hubby to pick up this or that heavy thing, or to hand a jar with a stuck lid, or to open a too tight valve, or to cut a really thick limb or to constantly pick up a toddler/little girl.  And, no, I’m not going to ask every other guy I know to do things for me.  Frankly, I’m too impatient.  Plus, if you don’t want to play the role of victim, you would react the same way in my situation.

So, here is my advice and admittedly it is for women.  Work on your strength before you need it, and especially after you know you will need it.  To do this, take more opportunities to do the hard things yourself.  You will need to increase your hand strength.  Remember your hands and think of how you may strengthen them in every yoga asana you practice.  Also, find some thera-putty used in hand/wrist/forearm physical therapy.  (Click HERE for a great article on thera-putty hand exercises.)  Next, you will want to protect your back.  Asanas that strengthen your core are actually more important than ones that will strengthen your back because a strong core protects your back.  Once you do over-use your back, and you will, be sure to stretch your back afterwards or the quite annoying twitching and cramping will occur.  Twists and chest-openers (ie. gentle back-bends) would be good for both strengthening and stretching.  Then, because you will be doing more lifting than you can anticipate, work on strengthening your arms.  Your legs will naturally become stronger, but you must be sure your balance increases first because you will be climbing and carrying more than before.  A very focused practice of both mountain and tree pose would be good to remember.

I wrote this for women of all ages, from newly-weds to those lucky enough to surpass 50th anniversaries.  I don’t want you to ever need this advice, but statistically you may.

Note: Some of you may not know I write two blogs: Living with Cancer and a Toddler and Johnson City Does Yoga.  Please visit LWCAAT should you wish more information on young families during and after cancer, and JCDY for information on my yoga class or just general yoga info.  I have never posted the same blog for both sites, but this one had too much information for women reading either blog to miss.

Sarah:  Now get ready to laugh out loud.

While my original intent was to have Sarah spend the night with me at the Children’s Disaster Services training, I quickly figured out that wasn’t going to be a good idea because there would be a few hours of training that night.  So, I called my friend Kris Axtell to tell her what time I could drop off Sarah the next morning, and told her I needed to quick find one of my neighbors to babysit that night.  Her response, “Really Beckie, I think she should just spend the night here.”  To which I think I probably laughingly snorted into the phone.  So, Sarah had her first sleep-over with Kris, Paul and their four boys.  The only reason why Kris had to finally move Sarah onto a mattress in their room was because Sarah was still talking to the boys at 11:00 pm, meanwhile, the boys had fallen asleep.  The next day, one of the boys even asked if Sarah could spend the night again, and of course Sarah wanted to go back once she got home.

Also, it appears Kris solved the last of my potty training problems.  Apparently, that night Sarah did something in her pull-ups.  Well, as Kris put it, “Welcome to Boot Camp!”  Sarah had to do the clean-up work, and when she got herself dirty the screams were heard by all.  The boys thought it was pretty funny as Kris was retelling the story when I picked up Sarah.  I think it’s pretty funny that now Sarah runs past me saying, “Gotta go potty,” and doesn’t even wait for me to go with her.

Escape to the mountains

August 31, 2012 Leave a comment

We’ve been out of town.  This infernal heat had been making me daydream about Taos for a while now.  Then, I saw an opening in Sarah’s schedule.  So, I decided to grab her and run for the Rockies.  Unbelievably, I managed to time it perfectly with Jim’s parents, aunt and uncle.  They were going to be in Taos at the same time, so they were kind enough to invite me to tag along with them.  Sarah and I had a really fun time.  In fact, Sarah kept trying to lose me in favor of going off with one of them.  😉  Then, when they went back to Texas, Sarah and I drove up to my aunt and uncle in Bailey, Colorado.  Not only did they take us on some amazing drives with great views, and to some good restaurants, but we got to sleep with the windows open.  I’m probably not going to take medicine to prevent altitude sickness next time I go to the mountains though.  My eyes dilated and then didn’t return to normal for two days after removing the patch.  It’s a good thing I know what my car’s dashboard is suppose to look like, and it made reading a map… well, interesting.  Then, on returning to Taos, there was a two-month-old bear cub loose at the Kachina Lodge where we were staying.  The crazy people in charge were waiting for “mom” to come get her cub.  Seriously?  I have “bait” with me!  Fortunately for us, a few hours later, the cub decided to visit the motel across the street.  Sarah’s favorites were the giant playground at the toy store, and she loved watching the Native Americans from the Taos Pueblo (Tiwa tribe) dance in the circle at the Lodge.

Sarah is in the middle of the bridge. She just kept waiting for older kids to help her do things too big for her. Of course, they also helped her stay inside so I couldn’t get her out…

Fortunately, Sarah is a great traveler.  I never had to break out the dvd player.  She slept, played with her dolls or talked to me.  She loved trains and a few times we got the big trucks to honk at us.  We both enjoyed all those curves in the mountains.  (I would overly slow down, so I could speed up in the curve.  Wheeee!)  I thoroughly soaked in and enjoyed this time with Sarah.  Hopefully, since we don’t have the everyday fun that the three of us were able to create, Sarah and I can occasionally get away like this, and really enjoy each other.  I tried not to miss Jim.  It was hard though because I had always planned on going back to Taos with him.  I’d see a shirt that would look good on him, or want to turn to him and comment on something Sarah was doing.  I know how much he would have liked the drive, Taos, Bailey and traveling with Sarah.  It was a great trip, but there was still a hole where Jim should have been.

Categories: Beckie, Bragging on Sarah